5 Holiday Marketing Tips to Beat a Slow Season

Gift BoxesAccording to the National Retail Foundation, holiday shopping for this year is set to increase, but only by a modest 4%. Just about every other report or story I’ve read about this holiday season has suggested it won’t be a good one.

As other direct and indirect competitors vie for your subscribers’ pocketbooks, how are you going to make sure your business isn’t left holding a lump of coal?

By putting together creative and effective email marketing campaigns, right? After all, your relationship with your subscribers is a serious competitive advantage, especially as the proportion of holiday shopping done online continues to grow.

So what can you try in your campaigns to get a response out of your subscribers?

Tips for Successful Holiday Marketing

A few thoughts on how to make your bottom line more cheerful this season:

Start Early.

There’s a reason you see toy stores, supermarkets and other retailers start putting out holiday decorations and flyers between Halloween and Thanksgiving. People get to making wish lists and buying gifts as soon as the first cold snap hits.

Better for shoppers to pick up a gift from you early, than for them to wait until the last minute, when they’ve already overspent their budget and may be less likely to spend as much.

Don’t Overmail.

Avoid the temptation to send frequently. This can be tough sometimes — competition for email users’ attention gets intense in the holiday season as businesses try to make sales goals. So, you may take the mentality that “the more I send, the more chances I have to make a sale!”

But remember: all that email adds up. When someone starts getting too much, what do they do? They unsubscribe and cry “spam!” And if they remember you as constantly emailing them, guess who they’re saying “goodbye” to first?

Offer Gift Cards/Certificates

These add up to about a tenth of all holiday spending, and are less likely to be returned than an actual product.

Cater to Last-Minute Shoppers

Every holiday season, I buy at least a few savings bonds as gifts.

Even though it takes weeks for the bonds to actually be mailed, when I buy them, I get a little voucher that says “You’ve been given a $____ savings bond from ______” and talks about what a great gift this is, etc. I take that voucher, put it in a card and presto! I have something to put under the Christmas tree.

If you give late shoppers something they can hand to their loved ones on the big day, they may buy from you up to the last minute, even if your product itself won’t get there in time. A printable voucher/card/certificate is an easy way to do this.

Appeal to the Spirit of the Season

The holidays are about giving, and part of that holiday spirit is reaching out to the less fortunate.

Pick a charity and offer to donate a percentage of your sales to it. Tell your subscribers what percentage you’ll donate, keep track of your total donation as sales increase, and make that information available to subscribers — via email.

When deciding between buying from you, and some other company who doesn’t participate in holiday giving, who do you think consumers will go with? Your appeal to conscientious consumerism can be the edge.

Have Any Holiday Marketing Ideas Of Your Own? Let’s Hear Them!

With the thousands of people subscribed to and reading this blog, I’m sure we can come up with a ton of good ideas for making this holiday season a profitable one, in spite of analysts’ predictions.

Share your ideas in the comments below!

Justin Premick is the former Director of Educational Products at AWeber.

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  1. My first year in information marketing, I had no idea my sales would actually go down in December. I sell a product on improving your memory — and I guess that is something noone can give to their loved ones — it sends the wrong message as a gift, doesn’t it?

    Anyway, I panicked and created a xmas sale, where I sold the book at half price just during December, and that actually worked to some extent… sales did pick up… but I don’t really like devaluing my product in that way.


    11/17/2007 3:45 am
  2. I offer my prospects their choice of a free hypnosis CD for booking a consultation. At this time of year, it would either be "Weight Loss for Holidays, Vacations, and Eating Out" or "Mind Defrag for Stressful Times." Once I have my shopping cart up, I’ll offer these as Holiday Specials at 10% off (for self or gift).

    11/17/2007 11:39 pm
  3. I offer buy two or more nights and get a complimentary night at my vacation log cabin rental bussiness. It works like a charm!

    11/19/2007 10:01 am
  4. I will be taking advantage of the cold, wet British winter and emailing out content that point subscribers towards warmer climates like Spain – Christmas is the time the holiday brochures start getting read for next summer’s holidays. Having found a really quick and easy video creation program (www.RunWebs.com) I am now making more of my own content which my readers will hopefully appreciate.

    11/19/2007 11:10 am
  5. I receive a number of emails from various businesses. I imagine it will pick up over the holiday season. The number one and greatest mistake everyone of those businesses make is hitting me with "buy ads".

    If Internet marketing is going to work, you must revert back to the reason the Internet was built in the first place and that is to send and receive information, VALUABLE INFORMATION. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in a little humor or interesting story also to lighten one’s day.

    Perhaps after a RELATIONSHIP is established, the customer will be more willing to actually read those “buying ads”.

    Subject: Home Remedies

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    move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn’t move and does, use the
    duct tape

    8. Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

    9. If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.


    11/19/2007 1:28 pm
  6. I notice a lot of the top marketers are now using Squidoo in concert with their email marketing. It seems to be a great option for periods like Christmas because you can get a multimedia Squidoo lens up in 10 minutes. For example, I saw a new Squidoo lens on "Jingle Bells" the other day with relevant products promoted discretely throughout. Google likes Squidoo – two of my lenses are on the first page of Google for their keywords, one has a PR of five (6 months old)and two a PR of 4. Google is interested in seasonal relevance, so Squidoo presents an opportunity to add another dimension to both blog and email marketing around Christmas and the holiday season.

    11/19/2007 3:13 pm
  7. Since we sell sports drinks, we give away free T-shirts and caps when our customers order 60 and 100 serving orders. We’ll be doing the same this year and thought of offering free marathon/triathlon coaching services since 95% of our customers are runners and triathletes.

    11/19/2007 5:04 pm
  8. I list a number of ideas at an E-Commerce and Marketing blog I run. Recently I posted an article that gave 6 Cyber Monday Marketing ideas which e-commerce sites may want to consider. You can find the full article here:


    I’ve had some good feedback on it, and hopefully some of you will find it useful as well.

    11/19/2007 9:48 pm
  9. I’m still new in internet marketing. i’m writing a blog about the law of attraction. Is there any way to enhance my marketing during the period?

    11/20/2007 9:46 am
  10. Eric,

    Great ideas, thanks!

    I especially like the idea of mixing one-day-only offers with other longer-running promotions. Not everyone shops the same day (all talk of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" aside), and while building urgency is a good idea, we should realize that our subscribers/customers are individuals with different shopping preferences.

    11/20/2007 3:13 pm | Follow me on Twitter
  11. Hey, I’ve picked up some great ideas here. My business partner is an herbalist, he says sales are always slow during the holidays. I’m thinking of giving away a few CD’s with every order, doesn’t cost us much and promotes the spirit of giving.

    11/20/2007 6:49 pm
  12. As an information marketer with various digital and physical products to sell, I have an annual holiday sale where I offer 50%. Every year, I make thousands from this sale. The first year, it was the most money I made in a month… ;-)

    I’ve done variations of this from time to time, such as a July 4th or Summer Sale, at 25% off and 50% off, but nothing brings in the sales like the holiday sale.

    My products are also priced high enough that I don’t feel as though I’m devaluing them by giving this discount… and I only offer this discount to my list subscribers, not the general public.

    My experience and 2 cents… happy holidays!

    11/28/2007 10:41 am
  13. E

    Great suggestions. I think that giving a percentage of profits to charity is a real win/win. It always results in a big kump in profits for us and a handsome donation every year. We sell cookbooks – which actually do really well for Christmas.

    11/29/2007 12:59 am
  14. Would it be possible for AWeber to add a Christmas themed template to assist us?

    12/4/2007 8:52 am
  15. Carrie,

    Although we don’t have any templates specific to the holidays in the works, you might consider choosing a template with a color scheme appropriate and familiar to the holidays you are targeting instead.

    Then, to give an even stronger holiday appeal, you can use affordable stock photography available for any type of publishing you’re doing this year.

    We use iStockphoto for a lot of our images.

    In fact, they have a specific section dedicated to holiday images this year, and there are certainly services out there you can try.

    12/4/2007 2:36 pm
  16. I like to make things that are outstanding ….something a little different from what everyone else is selling and that really works….

    12/6/2007 12:40 am
  17. With reference to Sten re selling his product at a discount to get sales.

    Our industry (holiday accommodation) has peaks and lows and there is a lot of discounting done at certain times particularly by the big guys.
    However, we believe we have a quality product well priced already for a niche market (pet friendly), so we don’t discount but we do offer booking gifts to encourage people to book ahead instead of waiting for the last minute.

    You might try value adding a little gift instead of discounting the product itself? Another idea is what many other industries do at dead times, take the opportunity to go on holidays yourself! You may have to accept that there is no way in the world you will get sales at this time what ever you do. You may have to revise your pricing to work on income arriving for only 48 or 50 weeks of the year instead of 52 etc.

    If you believe (with backup research) that you have a quality product that is already a fair price, I believe that you should not discount to get sales. Perhaps you could put more effort into finding your customers. For example, if the majority of your likely customers live in town X, you advertise in the newspapers or magazines there. The internet is not the only market place. Hope my suggestions may be of help.

    12/6/2007 9:21 am